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Cover Your Cough, Wash Your Hands

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Dr. Ernest Levister, Jr.
With public health officials around the world scrambling to stem the spread of the swine flu outbreak, there are some things you can do to protect yourself.  The 2008-09 seasonal human influenza vaccine does not protect against swine influenza, A(H1N1) which is a very different strain. Since there is no vaccine available at this time, health officials recommend that people take the following normal precautions to prevent the spread of disease to others.

Persons with influenza infection are usually contagious a few days before they recognize flu symptoms and up to a week after symptoms disappear.

·        Cover your mouth and nose with tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

·        Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.

·        Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

·        Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

·        If you get sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

·        Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread quickly.

·        Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active,

manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

·        If you come down with respiratory flu-like symptoms such as fever/chills, raw throat, muscle aches, headache or diarrhea, seek medical help and contact your local public health officials.

·       Young children, the elderly and people with chronic illnesses are at increased risk.

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